• Tue
  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 5:05am

Baltic states call on Nato for help in face of Kremlin ‘expansionism’

After Putin's deployment of troops to region of Ukraine, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania call on Nato to quell the Kremlin's 'expansionism'

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 March, 2014, 10:17pm
UPDATED : Friday, 07 March, 2014, 10:27pm

Centuries of Soviet and tsarist oppression taught the three Baltic states to bar their doors whenever the Kremlin issues marching orders. Now they also scramble Nato jets.

President Vladimir Putin's decision to hold snap military drills in the Baltic Sea last week, just as he was pouring troops into Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, sent shockwaves through Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

After Ukraine will be Moldova, and [then it] will be different countries

The three republics demanded, and got, military support from Nato. The US deployed six warplanes to Lithuania on Thursday to bolster defences in the Baltic states for the first time since they joined the alliance in 2004, expanding the squadron to 10.

Another dozen will arrive in Poland on Monday, the country's Defence Ministry said.

About 150,000 soldiers took part in Putin's drills, including 3,500 from the Baltic Fleet in Kaliningrad, Russia's exclave between Poland and Lithuania.

"Russia today is dangerous," Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said at an emergency meeting of European Union leaders in Brussels.

"After Ukraine will be Moldova, and after Moldova will be different countries. They are trying to rewrite the borders after the second world war in Europe."

Fear over Russian expansionism is spreading across the former Soviet Union. Moldova, which borders Ukraine and Romania, has its own secessionist region, Transnistria, where Russian troops are stationed.

The former Soviet state is very "anxious" about Putin's brinkmanship, Prime Minister Iurie Leanca said in New York. Leanca said he called on President Barack Obama to provide "strong US leadership" to contain Putin.

The fear is particularly acute in Lithuania, the first republic to declare independence from the Soviet Union, in 1990.

Putin, who called the Soviet break-up the following year the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century", accused Lithuania and Poland of training the "extremists" who ousted Kremlin-backed Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in an "unconstitutional" coup.

Those "groundless insinuations" are attempts "to justify aggression and to incite hatred against Lithuanians", Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said.

A senior US military official said the Pentagon wasn't planning additional moves for now beyond the deployments of F-16 fighter jets to Poland and F-15s to Lithuania. Further actions to signal US resolve would be taken only if Russia adds to tensions in Crimea, the official added.

The Pentagon's intent is that the Nato alliance emerges stronger from the crisis than when it started, and military planners are seeking a strategy that balances restraint with a show of strength, according to the official.

That means the US won't deploy aircraft or vessels close to Crimea, or add any hi-tech weapons systems such as F-22 stealth fighters.

The US Navy's guided missile destroyer USS Truxtun was scheduled to enter the Black Sea yesterday for previously planned exercises and a port call in Romania, the navy said.

Like Ukraine, the Baltics, home to more than six million people, have a large Russian minority.

About a quarter of the population in Latvia and Estonia consider themselves Russian. In Lithuania, the figure is about 6 per cent.

"The Crimea scenario resembles the occupation of the Baltic states by the USSR in 1940," Latvian Foreign Minister Edgards Rinkevics said. "History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce."


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This article is now closed to comments

I don’t think that US President Barack Obama handle Kiev’s crisis well. First mistake, the European Union and the United States is so eager to recognize the new leadership in Kiev whom Russia considers unconstitutional coup. I also know that if the EU and the United States want to curb or to contain Russia, the United States or NATO must first control the Black Sea or the Crimea.
I don’t think that Crimea referendum to decide if Crimea should join Russia or remain in Ukraine is violation of international law. U.S or EU support a referendum took place in Southern Sudan 2011. The only way to resolve the dispute between Russia and Ukraine is to Mr. Yanukovych returned to the President of Ukraine, until new elections in May. I will think that EU and US should back down. EU or US just waste time to make every diplomatic effort to bring Russia and Ukraine in direct contact at the ministerial level since Russia considers the current government in Kiev is not legitimate. It is unrealistic that Mr. Yatsenyuk asked Moscow withdraw its troops, and halt its support for “separatists and terrorists in Crimea.” The question is How legitimate are Kiev new leaders themselves, included Mr. Yatsenyuk, and by which standards of legitimacy?
Jennie PC Chiang/江佩珍 03/08//14 美國
WTF do you know? What if Mongolia invades China and tries to take back inner Mongolia and make it join Mongolia? Should China and the rest of the world just stand around and let Mongolia do what they please?


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